Elaine Despins


Présence/Émergence is a series of large format oil paintings (198 X 145 cm). In the Montreal Gazette’s article entitled, Top Solo Show in Town, the art critic Henry Lehmann observes: Part of Despins’ triumph in such works is her ability to play emotion, something quite ephemeral and having no tangible existence, off against sheer physical surface, itself largely mute.

A parallel series of small square paintings (76cm X 76cm), echoes what we see in the lower part of the large format oils. The Square Format series, constitutes the artist’s visual exploration of the experience of sensing the body from within. It is this exploration that leads the artist to question the imperious quality and depth of what is perceived visually. What interests her is the gap between what is seen and what is felt. This rift calls into question the primacy, even the veracity, of sight. Through the felt sense, the body is perceived from within like a fluid mass, a space with indefinite boundaries. The concerns of this artist are not narrative, contextual or psychological. Rather, she seeks to throw into question our preconceived ideas and beliefs about the representation of the human body and to solicit the senses in a new way.

Her painting is a way of reflecting a world that is complex, touching and fundamentally paradoxical. The art critic Dorota Kozinska recently wrote about the series in La Vie des Arts: Profoundly visual and emotional, these works explore an inner vision. Despins is in the foreground of young Quebec artists who seek to reinvent figurative painting.